by Sharon Florentine

How job hopping can actually help your career

Feb 23, 2016
Careers IT Jobs IT Skills

Job hopping is no longer taboo. Many job-seekers are finding they can achieve a higher salary, learn new skills and expand their expertise by changing jobs every few years.

leaving a job
Credit: Thinkstock

Job-hopping no longer holds the same negative connotation it once did. In fact, switching jobs every few years has become the new normal for many IT professionals looking to add new skills, experience life at a cutting-edge startup and add to their paychecks. As the IT skills gap continues to put pressure on hiring organizations to find and retain talent, more and more IT professionals are being headhunted and encouraged to leave their current jobs to explore new opportunities.

In the driver’s seat

IT workers understand that the current economic climate puts them in control of their career progression, their salaries and their ability to ask for and demand better titles, greater benefits and a generous pay package just by moving to different companies every few years, says Frank Dadah, managing director, Finance, Accounting & Administrative practice with executive search, staffing and management consultancy WinterWyman. And for millennials, there’s no other way. In fact, a Deloitte Global survey, the consulting and business services firm’s fifth annual Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, conducted last September and October of nearly 7,700 millennials from 29 countries, revealed that 44 percent of them would like to leave their current employers within the next two years, a figure which increases to 66 percent when the timeframe is extended to 2020.

“Employers are not seeing job-hopping as a negative anymore. As long as there’s a reasonable reason for talent to make a move and their references check out, it’s really not the scarlet letter it used to be. IT professionals are using job-hopping to pick up new skills, expand their experience and work in different verticals within IT. Even C-level executives are open to making moves if they feel an opportunity may be promising,” says Dadah.

Job-hopping’s also increasingly common in the start-up world, Dadah says. Many IT pros proudly refer to themselves as “serial entrepreneurs” if they’ve founded and run many different start-ups, especially if those have gone on to successful IPOs or to become household names, he says.

“In IT, job-hopping can be an indicator of a positive trait — someone who likes to take calculated risks and be on the cutting edge of technology innovation. It’s a personality trait that’s valuable; someone who can say, ‘I love the energy and the atmosphere in startup culture. I like to drive these new ideas and new applications of technology,'” says Jayne Mattson, senior vice president at career management and transition services consulting firm Keystone Associates.

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What motivates you?

With employees in the driver’s seat and the taboos around job-hopping slipping away, job seekers need to focus on identifying their motivations, both for accepting a job and for leaving it, Mattson says.

She says it all comes down to a misalignment of what a company can provide versus what an employee needs, and that includes a company’s mission and values.

“Sure, there are plenty of people who take a new job for a higher salary, or better benefits, to have more flexibility – things like that. But more often, I see that it’s more about whether or not a person’s career goals and personal values and sense of mission and purpose are being met by the companies they work for,” Mattson says.

If job seekers want to make sure they’re getting the most out of their time with a company, they need to do their due diligence up front, or risk being dissatisfied. It’s also important for companies to look at talent acquisition and retention through this lens if they want to attract and retain great people, Mattson says.

“Reflect back on positions you’ve had where you felt the most satisfied — what was the culture like? Where do you do your best work? What were the people like? Make sure the company and the person you’ll be reporting to are going to meet those needs for you. I like to suggest that candidates ask courageous, thoughtful questions that delve into the deeper culture of the company,” she says.

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While questions like, “Describe your culture” and “Describe your managerial style” are important, they only scratch the surface of what job seekers and hiring companies should be looking for.

“What you really want to know, and this is what takes courage to ask, is, ‘How receptive is the company to making changes, or addressing issues when they arise?’ Are they receptive to feedback and making changes, or are they defensive? These are questions a company will ask you in an interview; why not turn the tables and ask them the same?” Mattson says.